RAW is live once more tonight. Somehow, WWE were declared an essential business, which allowed them to continue broadcasting. It makes little sense and seems inadvisably dangerous regardless of whatever safety precautions they have in place, but here we are. Drew McIntyre and Becky Lynch will be making appearances and we have the first qualifying matches for the Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match.
I’m Amanda and this is the RAW review.
Asuka def. Ruby Riott
Aleister Black def. Oney Lorcan
Shayna Baszler def. Sarah Logan
Austin Theory def. Akira Tozawa
Angel Garza def. Tehuti Miles
Nia Jax def. Kairi Sane
Bobby Lashley def. No Way Jose
The Viking Raiders def. Cedric Alexander & Ricochet
Drew McIntyre def. Andrade
We were back to a three-man commentary desk this week, Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, and Jerry Lawler (yep, a 70-year-old man with heart issues turning up for his ‘essential’ job in a pandemic).
♦ The show opened with Drew McIntyre, after the obligatory recap of him beating Brock Lesnar for the title. He started by saying thank you on behalf of all the WWE superstars for allowing them into our living rooms and talked about the outpouring of support on the internet after his win. He described the entire experience as surreal, including Big Show challenging him 20 minutes after his victory, which he talked up through the highlights of.
Beating Brock Lesnar and Big Show back to back sets up the kind of champion he’s going to be. One who shows up and defends it. The mission statement is simple, if people deserve a shot at the title, they get a shot at the title. He was immediately interrupted by Andrade and Zelina Vega.
Vega introduced Andrade (unnecessarily and sarcastically), the United States Champion, and said they were there to congratulate him on having two WrestleMania moments in one night. She even had a crack at a Scottish accent. But while McIntyre was having his moments, an injury took Andrade’s from him. She said it would be a shame if someone were to injure McIntyre and take his title.
McIntyre stopped her and said he remembers what happened the last time he and Andrade fought. It was for McIntyre’s NXT Championship and the finish left him not only no longer champion but out injured for six months with a torn bicep after Andrade dropped him on his head while his arm was caught in the ropes. He offered Andrade a Champion vs Champion match.
Andrade accepted by saying that last time he took him out, tonight there’s no more senor nice guy.
♦ Asuka vs Ruby Riott – Money in the Bank Ladder Match Qualifier – was the first match of the show and the first of three qualifiers. Ruby Riott got cocky and asked for the ‘real Asuka’, seconds later she was face down on the mat screaming as Asuka tried to detach one of her recently repaired shoulders. She got to the ropes, that time, but she had plenty of reason to regret the request for the next few minutes. So much so that Asuka was dancing on the barricade with Riott laid out on the floor beneath her as we went to a break. Riott did fight her way back into it and turned it into a very competitive match. She came close to pinning and submitting Asuka but eventually succumbed to the Asuka Lock.
There was an attempt at a post-match interview with Asuka. Most of her response was in Japanese, but ‘Money in the Bank’ and ‘No one is ready for Asuka’, were loud and clear.
♦ There was a special episode of MVP’s VIP Lounge, from backstage to presumably allow time to sanitise the ring. He was there to announce the Money in the Bank Ladder Match Qualifiers for next week, and to explain the concept of the Money in the Bank briefcase. The matches are Rey Mysterio versus Murphy, Aleister Black versus Austin Theory, and Apollo Crews versus MVP (didn’t he retire last year?).
♦ Aleister Black vs Oney Lorcan was good. I’ve got quite into these matches which are just wrestling and no-nonsense. It finished with the Black Mass. Afterwards, Aleister Black was asked about his game plan for his qualifier next week. He said his game plan is to win, which seems like a pretty solid plan.
♦ Becky Lynch had a long in-ring promo aimed at Shayna Baszler where she talked about playing mind games to get in Baszler’s head, to make her think she was arrogant and complacent. She challenged whoever wants the RAW Women’s Championship the most, to climb the ladder, unhook the briefcase, and use the contract to name a time and a place. She’ll be waiting. Whoever wins and thinks they can beat her, she will shock the world one more time.
♦ Andrade and Zelina Vega had a backstage interview with Charly Caruso. She asked him if it was a cause for concern that McIntyre is coming off such an impressive WrestleMania performance. Vega corrected her pronunciation of Andrade, then told her Andrade is the more dominant champion because he has been defending his title for months (except the month he was suspended for Wellness Policy violation), and the last time McIntyre was champion it was Andrade who dethroned him.
♦ Sarah Logan vs Shayna Baszler – Money in the Bank Ladder Match Qualifier – was the second of the three. Before the match, Baszler was asked if she had any comments on the disparaging things Ronda Rousey has been saying on social media about professional wrestling and its fans. Baszler answered only with a death stare. It wasn’t a match. Baszler just beat on Sarah Logan until the ref backed her off, then she stamped on Logan’s elbow and he called for the bell. The official decision gave the win to Logan, presumably by disqualification. Not sure the official decision was correct there, Baszler should have won by referee’s stoppage.
After a break, it was clarified that the ring announcer has made a mistake and Shayna Baszler progressed via referee’s stoppage.
♦ Seth Rollins said, in a strangely flat tone, that at WrestleMania he lost to Kevin Owens. Once again his career has been crucified. That’s a bit on the nose for Easter Monday.
♦ Akira Tozawa vs Austin Theory was a decent match. Zelina Vega joined commentary as Theory’s manager. Saxton tried to make her say nice things about Aleister Black, Theory’s opponent for next week (and Vega’s husband), but she wouldn’t be drawn. They talked a lot about the upcoming main event match instead of the one in the ring. There were a few tense moments for her when it looked like Theory was in trouble, but he finished Tozawa with the ATL.
After the match, he was joined in the ring by Andrade and Angel Garza and they sat Tozawa on the turnbuckle to receive a hammerlock DDT from Andrade.
♦ Rey Mysterio was asked what it would mean to win Money in the Bank. He was cashed in on, in 2010, by Kane which ended his second world championship reign. No one knows better than he how dangerous the Money in the Bank contract can be, but first, he has to defeat Murphy. He has a lot of respect for Murphy, he’s a bright incredible superstar with a big future, but he doesn’t want it as much as Mysterio. So next week he’ll put it all on the line and become Mr Money in the Bank, and he’ll be the one cashing in.
♦ Another visit to Seth Rollins. He said everyone needs something to have faith in and he wants us to know he’s still here for us and our Messiah has truly risen.
♦ Angel Garza vs Tehuti Miles existed solely for Garza to show off and for Miles to take another post-match hammerlock DDT from the corner Garza and Theory put him in. Garza won the match with a Wing Clipper.
♦ The Kabuki Warriors had a backstage interview before Kairi Sane’s match against Nia Jax. Asuka said Ruby Riott was not ready for Asuka and the response to Sane being asked about her confidence levels going into the match was just both of them saying confidence.
♦ Charly Caruso asked Drew McIntyre to respond to Zelina Vega’s comments. He pointed to a scar on his arm and said at least a couple of times a week he looks at it and it reminds him of how much Andrade took from him. He worked his arse off and became WWE Champion, but he doesn’t forgive, and he doesn’t forget. He’s going to hurt Andrade and he’s going to Claymore Andrade, and if that means Andrade has to take six months off, so be it.
♦ Kairi Sane vs Nia Jax – Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match Qualifier – was short and painful for Sane. Asuka was cheerleading from backstage, but Sane was thrown around then pinned with the Annihilator. She didn’t even get Nia Jax off her feet.
♦ Charlotte Flair came to the ring for ‘History Lessons with The Queen’. It was pretty recent history, starting with Royal Rumble and through the Road to WrestleMania. She said Rhea Ripley challenging her was ballsy. But now she’s the NXT Women’s Champion because she beat the next big thing, making her the biggest thing. She thinks Rhea Ripely wants to be like her but lacks humility. There are levels to this. There will always be someone stronger, faster, better. She’s going to remind NXT of humility. Next in line is Io Shirai. Flair is there to teach lessons. Lesson one, everyone bows down to The Queen.
♦ Bobby Lashley vs No Way Jose happened. The most notable thing about it was Lashley taking a break in the middle of the match to tell Lana to ‘Shut the hell up’. She did and he went on to win the match with a spear.
♦ Back with Seth Rollins again, he said the non-believers have left him no alternative. Tonight, he Stomps out all doubt.
♦ The Viking Raiders vs Cedric Alexander & Ricochet was a lot of fun to watch. Ricochet and Alexander have gelled well as a team and they had Ivar and Erik rocked for long periods in the match. Just before a break, The Viking Raiders wiped out their opponents by Erik throwing Ricochet at Alexander then Ivar hitting them with a suicide dive, but the match continued when we came back. We were treated to a long match, but in the end, it was Cedric Alexander who received the Viking Experience and got pinned.
♦ Charly Caruso spoke to The Street Profits, who immediately brought Bianca Belair into the interview. She welcomed Belair then asked Ford and Dawkins to respond to The Viking Raiders intention to take the titles. They went off on a little story about Vikings then got told off by Belair. She pointed out they’ve never beaten The Viking Raiders and told them to stop playing games if they want to keep their titles.
♦ Andrade vs Drew McIntyre – Champion vs Champion – saw Andrade bring Angel Garza, Austin Theory, and Zelina Vega with him to the ring. Vega had a pre-match rant at McIntyre. Drew McIntyre wasn’t playing when he said he doesn’t forgive or forget. He looked like he was out to hurt Andrade, but got distracted by the extras on the outside and had his arm wrapped around the post by Andrade. Andrade worked the arm from that point and had McIntyre in trouble for a little while, but he soon bounced back.
Austin Theory grabbed McIntyre’s foot, so McIntyre made them all pay, throwing Andrade at the other two then following him out and chopping Theory to the ground before dragging Andrade back into the ring. Zelina Vega caused another distraction by getting up on the apron. That allowed Andrade to crotch him on the turnbuckle, but McIntyre resisted the hammerlock DDT. An Alabama Slam and a Claymore finished the job in Drew McIntyre’s favour.
Seth Rollins music hit but before Rollins could arrive Garza chop blocked McIntyre which left him vulnerable to Rollins’ superkick and Stomp. A second Stomp closed out the show.
The interview-heavy format necessitated by the current circumstances made tonight’s RAW a hard slog to get through. There were some good matches, but it’s an uncomfortable watch especially with so many people on the show. Nine matches is a lot for a normal episode and there were in-ring promo segments and interviews with people not wrestling as well. Too many people. I’m sure the majority of fans would be happier with a less risky alternative, old PPVs, or maybe superstars doing commentary on their old matches from home. Anything but putting people at risk with live shows.